U of M, Crookston Selected as Member Site of Minnesota GreenCorps

Waltz_Chris 9674.jpgCrookston, Minn.  - A grant awarded to the University of Minnesota, Crookston will allow the campus to host a member of Minnesota's statewide initiative to help preserve and protect the environment, known as the Minnesota GreenCorps. Chris Waltz, in the photo, was recently appointed as the local government energy conservation specialist and will be trained for his role as part of a new generation of environmental professionals under the program. He will be located on the Crookston campus and assist local entities (city, county, school district) in the conservation of energy from their buildings and/or vehicle operations. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) coordinates the Minnesota GreenCorps, which is an environmental AmeriCorps program. The Crookston campus was one of 56 applicants selected as one of the 12 sites.

In his role, Waltz will work closely with the City of Crookston  and the U of M, Crookston Sustainability Committee and with Dan Svedarsky, director of the U of M, Crookston Center for Sustainability.  Waltz will be responsible for collecting, benchmarking, and reporting up-to-date data on energy use and reducing greenhouse gas ( GHG) emissions such as carbon dioxide. Another responsibility will be to work with the host site to implement action steps that will have an immediate effect as well as look at how to invest in the future in an environmentally conscious way.

Waltz, a 2009 graduate of the U of M, Crookston, majored in natural resources and led the effort as a student in gaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the new residence hall on the campus. Dubbed Evergreen Hall, the residence facility is the first LEED Certified residence hall in the University of Minnesota system. LEED certification, an internationally recognized green building certification system, means that Evergreen Hall's apartment-style living was designed with consideration for sustainability and less environmental impact.

As a member site, the Minnesota GreenCorps position integrates well with the recent selection of the campus as a winner of Otter Tail Power Company's Campus Energy Challenge. The goal of this first-of-its-kind program is to work with Otter Tail Power Company to reduce electric energy consumption on campus by as much as 15 percent over a two-year period.

Svedarsky is enthusiastic about hosting a Minnesota GreenCorps member and what it means, "This opportunity connects the Crookston campus and community in an effort to become more environmentally conscious and to save precious resources and money," Svedarsky says. "Being a member site for the Minnesota GreenCorps and working with Otter Tail Power Company will help us engage in a real, practical way to employ energy conservation methods to help us make better decisions on the campus, in the community, and as individuals."

The mission of the Minnesota GreenCorps is to provide its members with opportunities to contribute to improve Minnesota's environment, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills. Local governments and community organizations statewide host Minnesota GreenCorps members and provide day-to-day supervision for members working on projects in the areas of local government energy conservation, school waste prevention, living green outreach, local food systems, and urban forestry. To learn more, visit the MPCA's NextStep sustainability Web site at www.nextstep.state.mn.us.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers more than 25 applied-science undergraduate degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. To learn more, visit www.UMCrookston.edu.

Contact: Dan Svedarsky, professor, 218-281-8129 (dsvedars@umn.edu); Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director of communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)